Monday, January 17, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 180

Superman makes his annual trip to Birmingham, AL, to honor and remember the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. The Man of Steel was scarcely two years old when Dr. King penned the letter from a Birmingham jail which would come to shape his life, his career, even the way he chose to use his amazing abilities to help all humankind. Whenever doubts have shaken him, whenever the righteous path has been obscured, Dr. King's words have set him right. Critics have called him an outsider, an alien who should not interfere with human affairs, and he has responded that "anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds." He has been called an imperialist, enforcing a singular notion of justice without regard for local legalities or customs, but he has quoted "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." He has been called brash and thoughtless, flying in without considering the political and social ramifications of his actions, but steadfastly believes that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." He has adopted Dr. King's notion of peace, working toward a "positive peace which is the presence of justice," though he has found it harder to remain so steadfastly nonviolent in the face of the threats which, time and again, he has stopped. But unlike many of his caped and costumed colleagues, he would still prefer and attempt nonviolent methods even in the face of unyielding evil--after all, "right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant," and "it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends." The truth, the justice, the American way for which Superman stands, are the truth, justice, and American Way that Dr. King defined. The truth is the purest truth, attained through struggle and tension. The justice is swift justice, true justice, which reflects the moral law even when the civil law stands at odds. The American Way is freedom, "because the goal of America is freedom." Superman takes a last look at the statue of Dr. King in Kelly Ingram Park, and departs--after all, the President can't be late for his speech at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Meanwhile, in the Birmingham, AL of another Earth, another Superman reads the same letter in the same park, and finds a renewed sense of purpose.

Read the full text of "Letter from Birmingham Jail" here. You'll be glad you did.

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